Mysterious BMW fires continue amid calls for investigation

The government watchdog for automotive safety does not have an active investigation into the possible causes of the fires.
8:54 | 02/05/19

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Transcript for Mysterious BMW fires continue amid calls for investigation
My children survive on schedule. They have a schedule that they are on every single day. Reporter: Max and Eli are brothers and both have been diagnosed with autism. Their delicate routine thrown into chaos one night in October. You know, max was just about getting to sleep. Eli was pretty much asleep. Reporter: Their mom Laura says she parked her 2014 bmwx5 in the garage. And I hear these really odd really, really loud banging. What were you thinking? I think I kind of went into shock. Grabbed Eli. I'm yelling at max, get out of bed, let's go, we have to go! Grab him. Reporter: They ran out the door to see that a fire had started in the garage with a catastrophic boom. The explosion blew out that garage door. When neighbors described it, they felt that it was either like fireworks or gunshots. I can hear the fire alarms now just going berserk. Reporter: Laura and her family were able to escape with their lives but little else. Their home destroyed. And what came next a surprise. Immediately when the fire investigators came they were able to pinpoint the BMW. Reporter: The BMW Laura owned for just a few months, which she says was parked and turned off in her garage, had ignited. I bought the car in June of 2017. The fire happened on October 18th, 2017. It wasn't even due for an oil change. Reporter: Laura's case is one of more than 50 reports of BMW car fires that ABC news and abc-owned stations have uncovered. We found various models of bm Ws and bmw-produced mini coopers, which owners say were parked with engines off, and in one case, even parked for days. The car had been parked for at least three or four days, which we thought was a little peculiar. Reporter: None under fire-related recall at the time of the fire. My car is on fire. Reporter: So what could be causing these parked cars to ignite? It's a question we've asked the luxury carmaker for nearly two years, since our first report in 2017. And we finally had the chance to ask one of BMW's top executives. More on that in a moment. Bill makos' Maryland home was destroyed when his parked BMW x5 ignited in his garage. ABC first met bill in 2017 while he was rebuilding his home. I feel like I'm just tossed aside. You know, it's just a number. Not even an apology. So that's the sad part. It was sickening how quickly it spread. Reporter: Bill says he used to be a loyal BMW customer. But he says BMW gave him the cold shoulder. Until this letter. So two years after your BMW caught fire, you get a recall. Yep. Fire-related recall. Yep, yep. As a matter of fact, ironically, I think the fire was December 1st, 2015, and the recall notice was December 2017. Reporter: Although parked car fires are unusual, car manufacturers have issued 62 recalls related to such cases since 2017. Just last month Hyundai and Kia recalled 168,000 vehicles for fire risk. Since October 2017, BMW has issued four fire-related recalls. And in that time we've uncovered even more cases. I would never buy another BMW after the way they treated me. Reporter: When Lynn wrench received a recall notice in 2017 saying, remedy unavailable, she says she reached out to BMW right away. And he said they didn't have a solution yet. And they would notify me when they did. Reporter: Lynn says while she was waiting for the fix from BMW, more than six months after receiving the initial notice, her 2011 BMW caught fire. She says while turned off and parked in Wisconsin. BMW offered Lynn a $3,000 rebate on a new or preowned BMW, reimbursement for a rental car, and an additional $1,500. But with a stipulation. They wanted me to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I wouldn't even be able to talk with you about this, or anybody. Why would I do that? Reporter: Lynn is not the only BMW owner who has received a recall letter saying "Remedy unavailable." ABC news heard from one BMW owner who said he received a letter saying, BMW advised parking vehicle outdoors. BMW said it was out of an abundance of caution that it made that recommendation, and that the company worked diligently to secure an adequate supply of parts so that affected vehicles can be fixed as quickly as possible. Some BMW owners we spoke to filed a complaint with ntsa, national highway traffic safety administration, the government watchdog for automotive safety. Do you believe nhtsa is listening to drivers who are calling and complaining and holding BMW accountable? There's really no evidence that they are. These bm Ws had these fire problems for a very long time. They have taken a very long time to respond to them. I think what's particularly scary is there's no watchdog out there that BMW's afraid of. Reporter: Currently there are more than 90 complaints of parked BMW fires filed on nhtsa's database, 30 of which were filed after or original report, and after nhtsa encouraged BMW owners to get in touch with the agency. But as of December, there is no active nhtsa investigation into the fires. I think it should be a very high priority for nhtsa. Reporter: New Jersey attorney Joseph Santoli says he's been repeatedly contacted by BMW owners who say their parked cars caught fire. Nhtsa needs to bring pressure, as much pressure as they can bring. Reporter: Nhtsa stated it is in close contact with BMW in its oversight of the automaker's recalls that involve a potential fire risk and will take appropriate action if warranted. BMW representatives have declined repeated requests for interviews but in statements have said with approximately 4.9 million BMW vehicles on U.S. Roads, fire incidents involving BMWs are very rare and that BMW takes every incident very seriously, adding that car fires can result from a variety of external reasons unrelated to product defects. But we still had more questions. So we went to the Los Angeles auto show where we found the CEO of BMW North America Bernhard kund unveiling BMW's new sports coupe. Good morning. Can you tell us what you're doing about the BMWs that have been catching fire while parked? While parked? Yes. Okay. You're asking me a question, once again -- sorry, sorry -- No I just want -- we've been wanting to have an interview with you. We've brought dozens of cases to BMW about these parked cars catching fire -- I would really appreciate -- I'm happy to give yous answers -- do me a favor, come back in a few minutes -- We've tried to get an interview with you, we're unable to get an interview with you -- I'm happy to. Come back any time. Reporter: But to date, no interview. Also waiting for answers, families whose lives were turned upside down. I saw the fire. Do you remember what kind of car it was? What kind? That got burned? Do you remember? BMW. The BMW got burned? The BMW. Just to start over again, just to have to buy every dish towel, everything that you could possibly need, is incredibly difficult. Very, very severely autistic children, it's really hard. What's your message to BMW? We're not the only family that has lost everything because of a BMW car fire. Fix the problem. Laura olme is considering a lawsuit against BMW. Her insurance companies have sued BMW, so the automaker tells ABC news it cannot comment on her case.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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